The Greek Forum of Refugees, known by its acronym GFR, hosted on the 13th of January the first G100 Conference ‘New Voices for Europe’ in Athens. The GFR, a refugee-led organization founded in 2012, has aimed since its founding to provide a safe space and amplify the voice of refugees and immigrants in Greece and Europe. One of the main tenets of GFR is to tackle the unresolved issue of integration and GFR has been doing that by organizing events similar to G100. Events like these have shown to provide the perspective of the refugee and immigrant for topics like integration, by giving the centre stage to them.
The G100 conference was kick-started by the current president of GFR, also president of the Congolese DRC community in Greece, Jean Didier Toto where he highlighted the importance of events like G100 and how encouraging refugees to talk about these matters can help Europe conclude resilient solutions. Following Jean Didier, Mohammed Badran, a refugee from Syria, founding member of both the Syrian Youth Refugees Netherlands (SYVNL) and the G100, addressed the audience and presented the idea and concept behind G100. Mohammed acknowledged through his talk that the lives of refugees are dominated by the country’s policies. In his own words: “The voices of Refugees are not taken seriously. Their lives are dominated by country policies. So the refugees should join their voices and make the policy-makers listen to them”. His main concluding remark is that refugees should join their voices and make the policy-makers listen to them, something that can be done through initiatives like G100. It is important to mention that G100 events have been organised in Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin and now Athens, Zagreb and Malta.
More talks and greetings followed before the main part of the event from other prominent figures in the refugee and migrant Greek society followed, like the Coordinator of GFR Yonous Muhammadi. The main part of the event followed with the discussion transitioning to the round tables. Aim of the Athens G100 event was to discuss the challenges that refugees and migrants face during the long period of integration and come up with solutions. As there was a diverse representation of refugees and migrant from different countries (Afghanistan, Albania, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kurdistan Region, Ivory Coast, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Ukraine, Belgium and Greece), three round-table language groups were formed for participants to choose. A, French, English and Farsi speaking groups.
After a fruitful discussion, each group presented the most important challenges and possible solutions. All groups agreed on six crucial subjects: i. Registration and documentation (Regularisation) ii. Language iii. Equal rights (Political) iv. Dialogue v. Safety and Social support vi. Discrimination and Racism. As put nicely by Yonous, Moussa and others, once registration and documentation (Regularisation) is accomplished the next barrier to overcome is learning the language of the host country. These processes can assist with the freedom of movement and dialogue, respectively, which in turn can catalyse the action of a two-way integration process that will help both the host country society and the refugees/migrants to acknowledge and understand each other and work our way to a more inclusive Europe. Moussa on integration: “I feel inclusion is a more correct word and meaning for me”.